Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Boxes and baggages

I never have enough cardboard boxes - they are key fodder for starting bonfires and we have rather a lot of those. So, when people are coming to the farm to pick up the ducklings they ordered, weeks or possibly months previously, I remind them to please bring a box to take their young home.
This has created something of an ongoing joke. I wait, all anticipation, to see what unlikely and unsuitable container is hoiked out of the car boot. Twelve month-old ducklings - oh, a shoe box will do (no, not even for one, even if you asked it to lie down). Just four ducklings at a week old - one of those biscuit tins left over from Christmas will be perfect (no, it's far too tiny and even if it was big enough they'd suffocate). A neat little carboard box from the supermarket will be made to measure for two full grown geese (no, no, no).
And on it goes.
Ducklings grow like stink. Every day, every moment, they chomp and drink and shit and grow. They may have come out of an egg, but they'll never fit back in one, no matter how hard you try. So, for the lovely first-time duck owners, do as your more experienced pals do and bring a cat carrier; it's perfect, and hoseable. If you don't have one, bring a BIG cardboard box with good solid sides, bottom and top, perforated with ventilation holes and some string or tape to keep the box closed and the ducks secure during transit (cruising the motorway with loose ducklings in the car is so NOT advisable, and I don't think the insurance would pay to get the seats cleaned).
But if you are VERY classy, you'll do what the couple who came today did. Vintage wicker pigeon carrier basket. Gorgeous. Filled with straw, neat looky-outy holes for pink bills to peep through without any danger of getting out.
And rest assured, no matter what you arrive with, and you and I gasp in amusement at the underestimated capacity of the birds to box ratio, I'll do my best to set you on your way with something suitable, no matter how Heath Robinson.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Running on empty

No, not another post on the knackering nature of lambing. In fact my head is desperate for thoughts that are entirely unrelated to sheep. Having done the 5am shift, I finally got back to the house for a ten o'clock shower and contemplated the shampoo and shower gel bottles, as you do.
They were getting close to being empty. They frequently are. How I manage to get through so much of the stuff, I don't know.
As a child I remember wondering about the never empty shampoo bottle (no shower gel in those days, we were a strictly Camay family). The bottle was enormous (but then, I was a lot smaller) and full of thick amber liquid. I'd sit by the bath and play with the bottle, tilting it this way and that, as the soapy treacly stuff inside slid up and down. It had vertical ridges and I could run my fingernails round it to make a grating sound, using the bottle as a Guiro. But like the amazing porridge pot that gave and gave, the same bottle, with the same shampoo, just kept on giving. I never dealt with the dregs of the shampoo or found an unfamiliar bottle sitting on the corner of the bath.
Knowing my Mother's war-time habits I now realise that she must have bought many great tubs of the stuff and simply refilled the bottle when I wasn't around. The label was curled in the same place, even when the level of shampoo had gone up. It took me decades though, to get used to the fact that shampoo bottles were not bottomless, that shower gel did get used up, that toiletries had to be bought, not just once, but again and again.
Sometimes I'd rather not have the gauzy veil of childhood lifted - the reality of having to put such stuff on the shopping list has no charm whatsoever. And being greedy, I always did love the tale of the little porridge pot.